Clear Brook Farm Reinvents the CSA

Though I still have items from my winter CSA with Clear Brook Farm in my basement (specifically, garlic shallots, popcorn and beets) and the ground remains covered in snow, it’s time for me to consider purchasing a summer share. 

Last week I received an e-mail from Clear Brook Farm announcing its first-ever summer CSA program. Unlike traditional CSAs where participants are handed a box of pre-selected produce each week, Clear Brook Farm’s new summer share program will allow customers to select exactly what they want, when they want it. It is the most flexible, convenient, economical and customer- and community-focused CSA that I’ve ever heard of.

Here’s how it works: When you sign up for the CSA, Clear Brook Farm sets up a gift card for you in the amount of the share you’ve selected (i.e., $250 for a small share or $450 for a large share).  You then use that gift card ANYTIME you want to shop at Clear Brook Farm, and you can apply it toward the purchase of ANYTHING that Clear Brook Farm sells–potted plants, local meats and cheeses, ice cream, pastries, produce, you name it.

To encourage customers to purchase summer shares, Clear Brook Farm is offering a credit: Depending on the size of the share you choose and when you sign up for it, you can get an extra $10 to $30 added to your gift card.  It’s their own little economic stimulus plan, and it’s really innovative.

The revenue Clear Brook Farm generates through the CSA helps the farm cover its start-up costs for the season. It also enables Clear Brook Farm to give low-income families in the community access to fresh, local organic food.  From Clear Brook’s e-mail: 

With every 15 full shares purchased we will donate a $225 share to a low income, local family. Through the Northeast Organic Farmers Association’s program, we will identify and  provide a share to a low income family in our community that can be used to purchase produce or vegetable starts from our farm.

Although I’d like to purchase a large share, I unfortunately can only afford to plunk down $250 for the small share. Large shares cost $450, and even $250 remains a sizable sum to front all at once. (That’s why I so appreciated the payment plans Clear Brook offered to customers for its 2009 winter CSA.)

Still, the 250 clams are for an excellent cause, and I look forward to using that gift card once Clear Brook Farm’s produce stand opens mid-June. I usually spend about $30 per week at Clear Brook during the summer, so the $250 share will last me about eight weeks.  

Now if only Clear Brook Farm could do something about this weather…

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